What is Paternity and How Can It Be Established?

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Posted in On March 13, 2024

In determining the rights and responsibilities both parents have towards a child, establishing paternity may simplify the process. In Indiana, paternity provides a child born outside of marriage a legal father. Establishing paternity outlines a father’s legal rights and responsibilities towards a child. Additionally, establishing paternity can aid in issues revolving around child custody, parenting time, and child support. Resolving paternity issues may allow a child the rightful ability to bond with both parents.

How Can Paternity Be Established?

In Indiana, a man is presumed to be a child’s legal parent if:

  • At the time of the child’s birth, both the mother and the father are married.
  • If the child is born no later than 300 days after the marriage ends.
  • The mother and father execute a paternity affidavit.
  • Through the filing of a paternity action by the mother, the father, or a state agency


In Indiana, a father is presumed to be the child’s father if both the mother and the father are married at the time of the child’s birth or if the child is born no later than 300 days after the marriage between the mother and the father has ended.

Paternity Affidavit

A paternity affidavit is a legal document executed in a hospital in which the child was born within 72 hours of the child’s birth. The mother and the father execute the paternity affidavit under the penalties of perjury, indicating that the father is the biological father of the child born out of wedlock.  

Court Order

Lastly, paternity can be established by obtaining an order from the court. Either the mother, the father, or a state agency (typically a county prosecutor) may file an action seeking to establish paternity in an appropriate Indiana Court. Common issues that give rise to a paternity proceeding may include:

  • A mother who alleges a man is the father of a child, but the alleged father denies he is the father.
  • A man who believes his is the father of a child, but the mother claims he is not the father.

Once a paternity action is filed in an appropriate court, a date for the hearing will be provided alongside notice being sent to both parties. During the paternity hearing, a mother and a father may agree or disagree on the paternity of a child. For this reason, either party may request genetic testing to help establish paternity. Whether the request is granted by the court can depend on the evidence provided to support the need for genetic testing. Upon the court’s discretion, additional evidence may be considered to further aid in determining paternity.

Once a paternity hearing has concluded, a court will issue a final decree establishing paternity. A court’s final decree will grant parental rights as well as outline determinations regarding child custody, parenting time, and child support obligations.

If you or someone you know have questions regarding paternity or need assistance in establishing paternity, consulting with a family law attorney regarding your options can be helpful. The experienced family law attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC can help with your paternity needs. Give us a call at (317)-526-4630 to help you navigate your case.